Crime data

Tracking and recording of crime data in Hernando County is getting ready to take a big leap forward via a new system that collects more information.

For years the Hernando Sheriff’s Office has followed the state’s crime reporting guidelines and used a system known as Summary-Based Reporting. A shortcoming of that system is that in single criminal incidents in which multiple crimes were committed, only the more serious charge was recorded and passed on to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for compiling crime statistics.

Michael Terry, the Sheriff’s Office public information officer, explained that in a case of a robbery that resulted in a homicide, the summary system would include only the homicide in the data passed to FDLE. In the case of a robbery that involved a lesser crime, only the robbery charge would be recorded.

The new system, called the Florida Incident-Based Reporting System, records all crimes for every incident. The system is known nationally as the National Incident-Based Reporting System, which is operated by the FBI and used to track an publish nationwide crime stats.

Terry said the system will help the Sheriff’s Office develop “a more complete and transparent overview of various crime types occurring in Hernando County.”

Terry added that while the system hasn’t gone live yet, the Sheriff’s Office already is using it, even as it continues to collect data using the previous summary system.

“The FDLE isn’t even ready yet,” said Terry. “We’ll be ready when they are ready to receive it (the new data).”

One consequence of the new system is that because more crimes will be recorded and reported, Hernando statistics may show crime is going up. It will only be illusory, said Terry, adding it will be a case of the previous system’s shortcomings being exposed rather than a jump in actual criminal incidents.

Terry said the system will allow the Sheriff’s Office to better spot trends in “spree-type” crimes like home and auto burglaries.

“We already do a pretty good job, but this will be even better,” he said.

Among other data, the new system will capture more information on victims, known offenders, relationships between victims and offenders, arrestees and stolen or recovered property involved in crimes. The system also allows for the tracking of crime data in near-real time.

“Summary-Based Reporting data was submitted twice a year to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement,” said Terry. “Incident-Based Reporting data through FIBRS can be submitted monthly, or even daily if desired.”

The bottom line, said Terry, is that the new system, which by mandate must be fully implemented this year, will have a “cumulative effect on combating crime issues and solving quality-of-life issues.”

Another advantage is that more categories of crimes will be recorded and reported, perhaps the most import being cyber and electronic crime.

Terry said training Sheriff’s Office personnel on the new system, which is software employed on existing computers, will be ongoing to ensure the Sheriff’s Office can hit the ground running as soon as the FDLE begins using it.

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office is implementing a new crime reporting system that aims to improve the recording and tracking of all crime in the county.